Thursday, May 28, 2009

Art Crisis

I go through this regularly, the comparing myself to other artists, and then getting so despondent about my own work.

Lately I have been loving Daily Painters. One artist in particular I find just incredible. In painting things like flowers, she seems to capture the essence so elegantly. No overworking, no getting stuck in detail. And her people! I have to admit I often find portraiture quite cringeful. Faces are hard hard hard to paint and it's easy to get it embarrassingly wrong. But this artist - oh the grace in her brush strokes, the beauty in her subject that she captures, and most of all, the expression. There is emotion there. I look at her portraits, and there is a whole story there. There is dreaminess, cheekiness, sadness - oh my god, any one of them I can get lost in.

So anyway, after days of watching Daily Painters, but not having the time or space to paint, I finally get a day to myself. I want to paint like them. I want to be able to capture a subject in simple elegance. My subject that day was a pelican - from a photograph taken by a friend of mine.

I sketch it out, and start on the water. How hard can it be? Ha! I try this I try that, I squint, I try to simplify... and I give up. I send a laughing text to my friend telling her about my experiment. Can NOT paint water.

So I paint over the whole miserable mess in white and retire to my bed in a flounce, "I want to be them, I want to paint like THEM!" Then of course my sensible voice emerges, "Maia, you can only paint like YOU paint. Go and paint the pelican the way YOU paint. And enjoy it!"

So I do. Funnily enough, the water, covered in white, has a lovely soft misty quality that I decide to stick with. And I do enjoy painting the pelican. And am reasonably happy with the result.

It has been a good reminder. It's okay to appreciate (and be in awe) of other artists' skill, but it is not productive to try to BE them.

Just be yourself, just be yourself.

And now I am working on a Chinese Girl (commissioned work) and trying all sorts of new things, including collage, and I am LOVING IT! And that has to be what it is about.


Vania said...

You have an award on my blog waiting for you - come on over and grab it! Cheers Val

Micah Holden said...

Beautifully said, wonderfully made! Great blogs, great art!! So glad you're sharing

Maia said...

Thank you Micah. :-)